My mom called me up the other day, noticeable worry in her voice.
“I have a problem.”
My mom then explained how after nearly five months of doing some type of resistance training four or five days a week, she was starting to notice her thighs getting bigger.
“And that wasn’t exactly the goal,” she said, obviously freaking out a little.
“Calm down,” I said. “Tell me exactly what’s happening.”
“Well,” she went on, “my waist is getting smaller and firmer, but my thighs are GROWING. It’s getting harder and harder to fit into my pants!”
I laughed, and proceeded to explain.
Here’s what happens when you begin a new exercise program:
You start to lose weight and gain strength almost immediately. This makes you happy and motivates you to keep exercising.
Then you hit your first plateau. Your strength and endurance gains start to slow, and you stop shedding the pounds as quickly as you were in the beginning.
And then… here’s the scary part for women… often certain body parts start getting BIGGER. Your thighs grow, and you may have a harder time fitting in those skinny jeans you bought six months ago, not because you’re getting fatter, just because you’re getting… bigger.
(Of course, if you’re working all of your muscles equally, this happens with all parts of your body, it’s just most noticeable on your thighs, arms and shoulders.)
This scares the crap out of most women. I’ll admit, back when I was first experimenting with weights, I got so scared when my thighs started to expand that I actually stopped working out.
“Lunges and squats make my thighs too big,” I told my trainer in high school, and stubbornly refused to do them.
I saw this same scenario with many of my own clients as a personal trainer—they were all ready to quit as soon as they felt their thighs getting closer together. The women, at least.
(This happens to men, too, it just bothers them less.)
But here’s the thing, females (and overly concerned men)…
Resistance training is good for you.
When you reach this phase in your training where you start to feel a little… bigger… that means you’re putting on muscle. And you know what muscle does? BURNS CALORIES!
“But I don’t want to stay that way forever!” You say (and my mom says).
Here’s my promise to you: you won’t.
Because you know what happens after you put on muscle and stick out your training for a little while?
You lose the layer. Yes, that layer of fat over your beautiful, shapely muscles—the layer that causes your clothes to not fit right, that embarrasses you in a swimsuit, that creates unsightly cellulite… that layer disappears.
So Mom, and everyone else out there… just stick it out. It’ll all be worth it in the end.
Image credit: Greatpapa